Former Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner Carroll Fisher has repaid at least $14,000 of an alleged $25,000 bribe, records show.
The Associated Press and the Oklahoman reported that Fisher made the first payment, $1,000, Nov. 3, days after learning he had been charged with bribery.
Fisher, 65, is charged in the bribery case of accepting the $25,000 and other gifts from Texas businessman Gene E. Phillips, his family and business associates in exchange for favorable treatment.
Phillips has not been charged and denies wrongdoing.
Fisher contends the $25,000 check from the Davister Corp. in Texas was a legal loan, not a bribe. His attorney, Bob Wyatt, said the repayments will be used as evidence at trial to support that defense.
Fisher deposited the Davister check into his personal bank account Jan. 19, 1999, shortly after he was first sworn in as commissioner. The check is dated Dec. 22, 1998.
Fisher has repaid at least $14,000, according to financial records dated May 11. Some of the payments were attributed as going to cover interest.
Investigators for Attorney General Drew Edmondson on July 27 seized financial records on the payments. The investigators found the records during a search at Syntek West Inc., a Texas company run by Phillips.
Phillips last year told investigators he knew nothing about the $25,000 check issued to Fisher, according to a law enforcement affidavit. Phillips also said he “did not have the authority to have a check issued to Fisher from the Davister Corporation account, for any reason.”
According to the affidavit, the check’s signer, Terry Shumate, told investigators, “I don’t want to talk to you about that. I’m not worried about getting myself into trouble. I’m afraid I will get someone else in trouble.”
Phillips’ attorney, Stephen Jones of Enid, said Fisher is doing “quite well” in the private sector and has promised to repay all the money, probably by the end of the year.
Jones also said the records would have been provided to investigators, if they had asked instead of just shown up for a search.
Fisher faces four other felony charges besides the bribery case. His attorney predicted the earliest a trial could be held is February.
Fisher, a Tulsa Democrat, resigned Sept. 24, 2004, after being impeached by the state House.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.